Oh, hey. Did you just come over here from Part 1? Sick. Go ahead and skip beneath the horizontal line.
But if you’re new to the page, the writers of The Prompt put together a chain letter, showing some love and appreciation for each other and our respective works. Last we left off, Dennis challenged Zach.
Sweet. Now you’re all caught up.
Dennis told me to write to reach out to someone who “has written about a topic in a way that you admired… or something. I don’t know.” So, here we are, mister. Here we are.
I’m so firmly Right-Brained that, in writing the first part of this sentence, I, despite being 37, initially wrote Right-Brained, which immediately launched my mind-boat on an odyssey of self-doubt, changed it to Left-Brained, pretended I was sure that was correct for 35 seconds, lost my nerve, sighed heavily and worried that you would hate me for not knowing, began touching both sides of my head and drawing my fingers diagonally from my temples down across my dumb face to my shoulders in some bizarre sign of the creative cross, before finally accepting that I would have to Google it, and did so, while simultaneously remembering the following three moments from my past that felt on-par with how embarrassed I felt in that moment of Googling**, before accepting that I was right all along, and had ONCE AGAIN, wasted a lot of emotional energy on something no one else would ever know about.
I say all this to explain that I don’t know things, even when I do. And that when I read most explanations about things that aren’t emotional or artsyfartsy, for example “Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit, or in other words, interest on interest,” the letters and words will dyslex into a jumbled pile, then reassemble themselves to read some variation of “Compound interest is for people who are better than you and you’ll never remember or understand this, so you might as just die, die you fucking child, freezing under a blanket of poems, you waste, you failure, you, who will always be dumb and poor and scared because he can’t navigate simple systems or understand the easiest concepts.”
But not when you write, baby. Not when you lay things out in a way that’s both interesting, succinct, logical, and somehow, laced with just the right JESSITUDE that I forget to do the above self-flagellation. Instead, I just read it. I sometimes even understand it (okay, maybe not fully, but to a point that I never want to add it to the Lutherian List of Self-Loathing I nail to my door each night).
I’m sorry. I know this is supposed to be about you, but I’m writing it, so it’s not, it’s about me, it always was going to be, we both probably knew it, monster that I am. But, I hope you can recognize how that means what I’m about to say is the best thing I could say to anyone, on this subject: The way you write makes me feel better about me. That’s really hard to do.
So, thank you. Thank you a fucking infinity.
Now, can you please write to someone whose work you’ll keep in an open browser tab all day, just to make sure you don’t forget to read it.
1. The time I spelled ladle incorrectly in front of my 4th Grade class.
2. The time I was 16 and thought inclement weather was spelled inCLIMATE weather because I’d never seen it written down, only heard it spoken by adults, and assumed the root had to do with the climate.
3. Yesterday, when I tried to kick a soccer ball to my brother and it was mostly accurate, but a little to his left, and normally I wouldn’t sweat that, but two people I didn’t know were clearly watching and judging me)
Zach challenged me to write a letter to someone for whom I will keep their piece in an open browser tab all day, just to make sure I don’t forget to read it. So here I am writing a letter to you because when I see that you’ve written a piece I will make sure that reading it doesn’t get lost in my (mostly mental and terribly organized) queue of things to do.
This is for two reasons. First, your pieces are often either hilarious, quite thoughtful, or both. Also, occasionally they are just stupid, but in a playful way that would be welcome on an episode of Conan O’Brian circa 1995.
The second reason I make sure I always read your pieces is that you have always read everything I’ve ever written, and will often shoot me an email or a text to let me know you liked it. As you made clear your piece “Dear Friends, I Am Sorry,” you are a fiercely loyal friend, and this appears to extend to you being a fiercely loyal supporter of the great writers here at The Prompt. Even those lazy ones such as myself who can’t be bothered to “participate” frequently, or “provide links to the GIFS” I include in my pieces.
From the earliest days when The Prompt was a shared Google Doc between a bunch of folks—only one whom I’d previously known—to the piece I sent you just last week, you’ve always given me thoughtful feedback and made my jokes (and rap lyrics) infinitely better. And this is to say nothing about your own consistency as a writer despite the fact that unlike me, you seem to have a very fulfilling day job and what I can only assume is a very time consuming hobby scoping the most excessively overly priced small plate ethnic cuisine restaurants in D.C.
As this is the limit of how much I am comfortable praising you in public, I’ll move on to the part where I ask you to write to someone else. So go ahead, buddy, write to someone whose written something thought-provoking that may have actually changed your mind on a topic, or simply made you go “hmmm.”
I can’t believe you weren’t picked for every other one of these superlatives… but then again, I can’t believe I wasn’t either! I think this is supposed to be about positivity though, so let me just dive right into the deep end: I am a massive N. Alysha Lewis fan. Oh, you need me to name three of her early pieces I loved? Sorry, I’m too woke for that!
Jesse asked me to write to a Prompter who has made me change my mind or made me say “Hmmm” after reading their work, and I immediately thought of you. We are very different people, who like very different things (even though we look so much alike!), yet I often find myself nodding a lot to your writing because it’s always so interesting and honest.
And while the reader-me is appreciative of that, the writer-me is blown away by your ability. Here I am, writing fictional pieces about exaggeratedly stupid versions of me, while you have no problem opening up about depression, your marriage, and personal struggles. And if I was the type of person who said “Hmmm” you would absolutely evoke that from me.
Now its time for you to pay it forward. To change things up a little, I would love it if you wrote a note of appreciation to someone from The Prompt whose writing you miss. Even if they don’t write with us anymore, there are many who are important to this community.
Of all the people who have come and gone from The Prompt, I definitely miss you the most. Mainly because I miss you in person as well, and how you did your best to keep me sane when we worked at the Horrible Place that Shall Not be Named (just kidding; it was Skyword and it was a fucking hellhole, and I hope it runs into the ground).
I loved your honesty and your positive attitude despite everything. I loved that you weren’t afraid to get into the shit, and that you would go on walks with me to talk about stuff like depression or my grandfather dying. I know that I still get to see your Facebook posts and enjoy your humor and refreshingly introspective thoughts, but I wish there were more people in the world who got to read your voice and know the kind of person you are.
Will Jacqueline respond? Will the chain letter continue? Will creativity prevail? Or is this the end of the road?
Chime in on Twitter with your thoughts.